The Ojos Negros Research Group


Sandmining from streambeds in the U.S. is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 33, Chapter 26, Subchapter IV, Section 1344: Permits for dredged or fill material). Under this legislation, the government is authorized to deny or restrict the specification of any defined area as a disposal site, whenever it is determined, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, that the discharge of dredged or fill materials into such area will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.

The government is authorized to issue permits for any category of activities involving discharges of dredged or fill material if the activities will cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and will have only minimal cumulative adverse effect of the environment.

The government may also issue permits for any discharge or fill material into the navigable waters incidental to any activity having as its purpose bringing an area of the navigable waters into a use to which it was not previously subject, where the flow or circulation of navigable waters may be impared or the reach of such waters be reduced.

Section 404 is strictly applicable to discharge of dredged or fill materials into navigable waters. However, the Code is actively being used to regulate sandmining activities in arroyos and washes of the Western United States. Thus, the government issues permits to sandmining operators in order to comply with the requirements of the Code, specifically, the avoidance of adverse effects on municipal water supplies, fisheries, wildlife, or recreation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates sandmining operations under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Section 9: Prohibited Acts). Under item 2(B) of Section 9, it is unlawful for any person subjected to the jurisdiction of the United States to remove and reduce to possession any endangered species of plants listed in Section 4, from areas under Federal jurisdiction; to maliciously damage or destroy any such species on any such area; or to remove, cut, dig up, or damage or destroy any species on any other area in knowing violation of any law or regulation of any state. This regulation is used by the Federal government to restrict sandmining operations in the Western United States.

Impacts of Sand Mining Management Strategies for the Ojos Negros Valley Summary Sand Mining Facts 020623